Brightside Books: Sharks, Widowers, Shapeshifters and Happiness
September Brightside Booklist
I love Stephen King. BUT, you know how sometimes when you read his books, you finish and say to yourself, Did I actually like that? I mean, I read the whole 5,342 pages, so I must like it, right? I don’t know. The Outsider, though? I loved it. It was a murder mystery wrapped in with the supernatural and it kept me wondering what the hell was going on until the very end. Instead of explaining, though, here is a quote from the book:
“Jack didn’t know how long he stood there, unable to move. It might have been twenty seconds; it might have been two minutes. The wind blew, tousling his hair and caressing his neck like those long fingers. The shadows of the cottonwoods schooled across the dirt and weeds like fleeing fish. The person–or the thing–stood behind him, its shadow long and thin. Touching and caressing. Then both the fingertips and the shadow were gone.”
From the first scene (a seal decapitated by a great white), I was hooked on this memoir/cultural history of shark watching and the Farallon Islands. The Farallon Islands are 27 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge and host of THE largest congregation of great white sharks anywhere on the planet. Every September, thousands of sharks migrate here and scientists post up in a lighthouse and a dilapidated, large shack to study them. From the first scene to the last paragraphs of the author suffering alone on her boat in a storm (NO THANKS), it had my attention, because SHARKS.
“At this moment in my life, I am strangely serene. In fact, I may have never felt more calm. Or more freed. Or more certain that these things owe themselves to a simple choice: to accept life as it is. Even and especially when it really fucking sucks. Even and especially if my husband left last night to go to the dump after announcing that he isn’t sure he loves me anymore…..and nine hours later, still hasn’t come back.”
I really liked this book a lot and I’m serious when I say that since I’ve read it, it has bolstered my opinion that when something bad happens, we have a choice. We can obsess like a psycho/ruminate/jump ahead to the disaster that we KNOW is going to happen OR we can practice accepting what is. If this sounds oversimplified, ridiculous and corny, it’s because it is. But sometimes that’s all we need: SIMPLE. Laura Munson was funny and, although she comes from an admitted place of privilege which has no doubt made her life easier, her problems were straight-up relatable. Even when I was shouting, “Why doesn’t she fucking leave him already?!!!!” I was still pulling for her.
I love, love, love when I find random books on the thrift store bookshelf that turn out to be perfect gems. This was one of them. I feel like I wouldn’t do this book justice by trying to express the feelings I felt by reading Francisco’s words about the accidental death of his young wife. The way that he articulated his grief was simple, but impactful and tangible.
This one sentence about his wife packing for their trip, which would be her last, shattered my heart:
“Anna put her quilt away in the closet and came back into the bedroom and finished packing for her death, three weeks and one day away.”
And this one where Francisco contemplates the wave that ultimately killed his wife:
“That night, as we slept, where was Anna’s wave in its long journey to Mazunte? Anna’s wave might easily have gotten its start a week or more before, during a storm in the warm seas of the Indian Ocean, where strong winds consistently blow in one direction. The older a wave is, the more dangerous it is, the height of a wave, its steepness, I read is related to its age…..Where was Anna’s wave that night, as we slept in our bunks in Oaxaca?”
What have you read lately that was amazing/heartwrenching/crappy? Let me know! If you want a FULL list of the books that I recommend, check out this link to 52 of my favorite books.
**And, as usual, you can click on the links to go to Amazon to purchase the books. It doesn’t cost you any extra, I just get a few pennies sent my way.